My Friday Five: 5 Must Haves When Traveling with Children
As we’re preparing for an upcoming flight across country, I’m reminded of all the preparations I did for our youngest when flying while she was younger. Fortunately for her, she has been traveling since she was a little tike so now it’s just a thing, but for a first timer, it can be exciting and yet stressful! I wanted to share some of our preparations and tips as you may be preparing for summer travels.
#1 MUST HAVE . . . Patience & Good Behavior
Be sure to bring good behavior and lots of patience . . . As you begin planning your trip, go ahead and start working on polite, good behavior and patience. We all know how stressful just traveling through the airport can be, imagine how it feels for those little ones - strolling through lines and all that’s at your eye level is everyone else’s derrière, Dad is frustrated because he can’t take his coffee through security, Mom doesn’t want to walk barefooted across the security mat, brother and sister keep aggravating each other . . . Sounds like a scene from National Lampoons Vacation, right?!
For your “little”, go ahead and practice manners & good behavior - “please” and “thank you” truly are the magic words; also, delayed gratification - this should be everyday rules, but not all children are taught this. Understanding that everything doesn’t happen on their schedule can help illeviate tantrums. As a mother, I always try to be extra patient with crying and screaming children because most of the time, Mom and Dad are doing all they can to calm the children while everyone else gives them ugly looks. Although, Mom and Dad also need to be cognizant of those around them, too.
#2 MEDICINAL AIDES
Have a supply of medicinal aides for motion sickness and pressure changes. For some reason, the girls in our family were all blessed with motion sickness - some worse than others and fortunately, it seems to improve with age. We have a list of checks we go through prior to take off:
(1). Nausea Relief - Ginger is an excellent natural remedy for nausea . . . Toughest part is finding a product with adequate ginger root in it, not to mention, getting your “little” to eat it. Preggie Pops (just hide the box to avoid any or Gin Gins have been a game changer for us. Although, our last trip, I couldn’t get our daughter to eat the Gin Gins early enough because she was feeling fine, but we had to endure 10 minutes of turbulence & 30 seconds into it everything changed for her . . . Which leads to my medicinal aid, Dramamine(which is good for children starting at age 2). You can purchase it at some airports and the first dose only needs to be administered 1/2 to 1 hour pre-flight. And our second choice are the Sea Bands
(2). “Puke Pail” or bag - Since our middle daughter was young and I had to travel for business, I have kept a little sand pail in my car for our road trips. (A funny side note: I tease her now because with each new car our middle daughter has gotten - only 2 - our youngest daughter has gotten sick in it the first time she rides with her. I call that Poetic Justice for all the times she did it to me! LOL!!!). Back from that trip down Wildlife Lane . . . The first time this happened to us flying with our youngest was on a 9 hour trip to Hawai’i. Fortunately for my husband, we were 15 minutes into the flight and he had already drifted off to dream land when she starts to say “I don’t feel . . . “ Then, BLEH!!!! We’re in the middle of a row, she’s covered in half of her breakfast, one of my hands is covered with the other half and I can’t wake my husband! (Don’t they always evade the messy stuff?!). Long story short - we worked our way to the tiny closet they call a bathroom and made a halfway successful attempt at cleaning her. Knowing we were making the trip home alone, we made sure to properly prepare our seat area for what should come . . . which as you would guess - since we were prepared, she didn’t get sick! At this point, we’ve flown enough that we try to book 1st class, if available, (not share our joy with others on a row) and now my 10 year old checks the seat pocket in front of her to make sure there’s a bag before we even buckle into our seats. So thankful for gracious flight attendants who don’t even flinch when you ask for a bag and even more so when you embarrassingly have to hand them a bag with contents!
(3). Gum - As you well know, pressure changes when flying are tough on the ears. Children don’t understand this, which this discomfort leads to crying babies!!! For babies, have something on which they can suck. The day of the flight I would stretch/crunch their feedings 15 minutes here and there, so they were taking a bottle during takeoff - the bottle sucking helps with pressure, stress and sleep. With children, I’ve always tried to keep MINT flavored chewing gum. On a trip to the Caribbean, I developed a stomach “bug” (as we, in the south, like to call any illness) - the Jamaicans taught me that peppermint tea would help calm my stomach. Sugary gums do nothing but increase the nausea, but mint doesn’t seem to aggravate; therefore, I stick to wintergreen or peppermint flavored gums.
NOTE: These are just some tips & tricks we’ve found that worked for our family. If this is your first time traveling with your child, speak with your pediatrician for suggestions and seek their opinion/permission for administering medication such as Dramamine.
#3 BAG OF TRICKS
Pack a fun bag of activities . . . I have this wonderful aunt who never had children, but I promise it seems she has a “wizard’s bag” she calls her purse. No matter what the need, it seems she has the remedy in her purse! Do you know someone like that? (And there’s always gummies or treats in there, too!). For long road trips where space isn’t quite such an issue, I pack a gift bag with individually wrapped, age appropriate, car safe activities. With good behavior (NO WHINING or KICKING OF THE SEATS), I allow them to open one every so often. Restaurants like Cracker Barrel and some of the book stores have great travel size family games, puzzle books, audio books, etc. We never resort to electronics or movies, just encourage family fun TOGETHER! And don’t forget a snack bag!!!
If we’re flying, I’ve found that personal backpacks work great. For the sake of your little, stick with the mini backpacks. This year our Kate Spade outlet had some cute dressy backpacks on clearance, so I was able to get our youngest one for her birthday. The “minis” prevent overweighting and overpacking. We allow her to bring her headphones plus colored pencils, drawing and reading books. When she was younger, we did allow her to bring a favorite blanket, too. As she has aged, she tries to bring EVERYTHING, but for the sake of airport maneuvering, we hold her to minimal “stuff”. Our last trip is when it finally hit home that Momma and Daddy knew what they were talking about when we refused to allow her to bring a small carry-on suitcase with her American Girls dolls and clothes - extra long security line & running through the airport to make our flight, SO GLAD she didn’t have that extra suitcase to push.
#4 "NURSE MOM"
“Cleanliness is next to godliness” . . . I remember hearing some of my friends’ Mommas say those words growing up! Don’t forget your hand sanitizer and/or hand wipes. A close friend developed a Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus while flying back from Canada, which hospitalized him and led to sepsis . . . Ever since then, I’ve been that Momma who wipes down the head rest before sitting and the lap tray before eating. With all that being said, think of all the hands that touch everything your Little is touching - wash or wipe those hands as often as possible.
#5 YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL BAG
FRIEND, go buy you a great travel bag! Yes, go get you that fabulous bag that holds everything!!! I have two different bags - one for driving, one for flying! Is that necessary? No, but I have a bag habit! I LOVE great purses & totes. It took several tries before I found that perfect bag for flying, but I finally discovered it and absolutely LOVE it!
For road trips, I have this great Daily East/West Leather tote from Mark and Graham, a sister company to Pottery Barn and Williams & Sonoma. It holds literally EVERYTHING!
It’s a “slouchy” bag, that you can toss everything inside and add to as you go. Mine usually starts out with the necessities and then, as any other homeschooling mom would have it, it collects brochures, maps and any other interesting information found along the way. WARNING, WARNING - before the trip is over, you can’t lift it out of the car! (WINK, WINK!)
Now, for my flying . . . I started with this little L. L. Bean Boat Tote - it’s the MEDIUM sized, ZIPPERED TOP tote with LONG handles.
I loved the bag, but (1) there was not easy access to the contents; (2) I wanted something more tailored; and (3) it became my “book bag” for our community group which leads to my new travel bag . . . My fabulous Henri Bender Jetsetter Tote I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this bag!!!
It’s a heavy duty nylon bag with leather and gold embellishments and if you’re like us Southerners, you can add a minimalist monogram on the front plate. But here’s the beauty of this bag . . .
See that wonderful zipper! Unfortunately, travel pick pocketing is a real thing, I love the fact that I can zip up the middle, yet the ends are open and can be snapped shut. Personally, I zip the middle, snap the end that is facing my back and use the open front for a bottle of water (after I get through security, obviously!). In addition to the inside, the outside front and back have a perfect sized pocket to hold a cell phone and the straps can be snapped together to keep from slipping on your shoulder. I believe Henri Bendel truly considered the female traveler when they developed this bag.
Traveling with family can be stressful enough on it’s own . . . Do everything you can to take care of yourself, so you can care for those you love!